Monday, December 08, 2008


I did not like to wear a coat as a child. Or, at least, one specific coat. It was a pea coat with large buttons which may have had an anchor design on them. The collar was huge and the inside red. It looked feminine and what does a 10-year-old boy need to maintain more than his masculinity? So if I could get out of the house without it, then I would, regardless of the outside temperatures. And that is how I found out that wearing a large-buttoned, naval-themed, possibly woman’s, pea coat isn’t half as embarrassing as looking up to see your mother standing at the classroom door with said coat in hand.

The temperature has finally nosedived and it seems that winter has settled in for the duration. With this downrush in the mercury comes the one thing that can slow getting four kids out the door and to school in the mornings. Neither ice nor snow or a slow-starting 17-year-old car is any match for what this time of the year brings. I’m talking about winter coats. And not the red- or blue-approved colors of the city schools’ uniform that may be worn all day long, but the big, oversized, fleece-lined armor that Memphis kids really only need for approximately eight weeks out of the year.

We’ve been in our morning routine for about five months so far this year and have breakfast, dressing, lunch-making and leaving the house timed down to the second. The whole drill looks like a special ops force rescuing hostages as we spill from the house and pile into the car to speed off.

But when these kids add something as foreign as a coat into the mix, everything comes to a halt. It’s as though I’ve asked them to build the engine for the car that we’ll be escaping in. With mittens on.

There are zippers, the reversible linings, a hood that snaps off, suggesting it may or may not be necessary, and then the problem of just finding the coat. It may have been left at school, or in mom’s van or … what coat?

I think it may make things easier and speedier in the mornings if I dressed them all in a layer of Under Armour the night before and a simple furry Russian hat on the way out the door. I’m pretty sure muskrat is approved wear in Memphis City Schools.